At the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Administration has again requested significant budget increases for directorates viewed as central to the American Competitiveness Initiative. Although the proposed increases vary by directorate, many of the physical science, engineering and cyber- related directorates would receive budget bumps on the order of 19 to 20 percent over FY 08 estimated appropriation. The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) would receive 10.3 percent in new funds, placing the FY 09 request at roughly $63.04 million above what the BIO directorate may receive from the FY 08 appropriation. Meanwhile, the Social Science, Behavior, and Economics directorate would receive roughly 8.5 percent in new funding. Overall, for Research and Related Activities (R&RA) programs, the administration has requested $5.594 billion, an average increase across all directorates of roughly 16 percent over the FY 08 estimated appropriation.
As reported in the 7 January 2008 Public Policy Report (http://www.aibs.org/public-policy-reports/20080107.html#004475), the FY 08 appropriations passed by Congress and signed by the President provided roughly a one-percent increase over FY 07 to the R&RA account at NSF. Importantly, given that the FY 08 budget for BIO saw no real increase over the FY 07 budget, if enacted, the proposed increase for FY 08 would represent a modest two-year adjustment for BIO.
The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account which supports the acquisition, construction, and commissioning of major facilities and equipment that provide unique capabilities at the frontiers of science and engineering will see the estimated $55 million boost in funding that it is expected to receive for FY 08 erode in FY 09. Total MREFC funding would decrease by $73.2 million, or 33 percent, from FY 08 estimates in FY 09. MREFC will continue to support three ongoing projects - the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, and the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory - as well as design activities for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. However, three other projects, including the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Ocean Observatories Initiative, and the Alaska Region Research Vessel, would not receive MREFC funds in FY 09. The $26 million requested for NEON pre-construction design and development in FY 09 will be managed by the Emerging Frontiers sub-activity within the BIO directorate.
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